YEREVAN—The government on Thursday expressed its support, for the first time, of a bill that would recognize the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, but was quick to elaborate that such a recognition would come only if Azerbaijan continues its military aggression against Artsakh.
This government action paves the way for a discussion of the bill, which was proposed by Zaruhi Postanjian, a member of the Heritage Party faction who was present at the government debate of the proposal.
“The adoption of the bill depends on the results of discussions between Armenia and Artsakh, and takes into consideration future developments and external factors,” the government said in its opinion.
“By recognizing Artsakh, we will prevent a number of problems and become a political factor in the world. Recognition is a bid for statehood, which the world has to reckon with,” Potanjian remarked during the government hearing.
“The aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan was not condemned in any manner therefore, we have to recognize Artsakh as there is no alternative. The recent developments showed that aggression is on Azerbaijan’s agenda,” Postanjian said. “They crimes committed against humanity, which went unpunished from a 100 years ago and 25 years ago, led to the April aggression. We have to rely upon ourselves.”
Postanjian said she envisioned that peace talks would continue if the measure were to pass and be approved by the president. However, she said that at a time when Azerbaijan continued its aggression, speaking about holding fresh talks would be “mockery.”
At the height of last month’s savage attacks by Azerbaijan against Artsakh, President Sarkisian warned Baku and the international community that Armenia would recognize Artsakh’s independence if Azerbaijan continued to unleash its wrath. Soon after, the sides agreed to halt fighting and engaged in talks the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen, as well as high ranking leaders of the co-chairing countries, Russia, France and the US.
This action by Armenia’s government paves the way for the National Assembly to debate the issue. Sources indicated that such a discussion could be placed on the legislature’s agenda as early as Tuesday.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry was quick to clarify that the approval by the government of the draft bill on Artsakh’s recognition did not mean an approval of the measure.
“Armenia has clearly declared on many occasions in what case it will recognize the Nagorno Karabakh Republic,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
“As a reliable partner, when making such a decision Armenia will inform its partners, and, first and foremost, the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries,” added the Foreign Ministry statement.
“We hope that Azerbaijan will be reasonable enough to refrain from repeating its exploits, unleashed in early April. Only through the acknowledgment of the lack of an alternative to the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict it is possible to return to the negotiation process and find a just and effective way for th e complete implementation of the right to self-determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh,” the Foreign Ministry said.
The news of the government opinion was greeted by official Stepanakert, wth Artsakh’s presidential spokesperson calling it an important contribution by Armenia to the stability of the South Caucaus.
“Armenia thus makes it clear to the world that it will recognize Artsakh, if Azerbaijan unleashes new war,” said David Babayan, the spokesperson for the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President in an interview with Public Radio of Armenia.
“The fact that Armenia has not recognized Artsakh for 25 years of negotiations is an unprecedented example of constructive policy. But when Azerbaijan unleashes war with an aim of complete destruction, Artsakh, recognition becomes crucial. The process has begun, and it’s a message to both the international community and Azerbaijan,” added Babayan.
He further clarified that “it’s a process, not the final step,” adding that “the issue should always remain on the agenda, even if no positive or negative conclusion are attained.”
Babayan said that the Armenian government’s opinion was a “message of peace, a message of preventing war.” It cannot be compared to what Azerbaijan did in April in what became the worst blow to the talks.”
“This is a response to Azerbaijan’s offensive, which implies that if the aggression continues, there will be no alternative to recognition,” said Babayan
“We want Artsakh to be recognized, but Armenia should not be the first country to do that. However, the issue should always be on the agenda as a restraining measure,” Babayan concluded.